Spain: Farewell to Benedetto Saraceno and welcome to Shekhar Saxena, new head of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse

 

The event, which was held at the Ministry of Health and Social Policy in Madrid on May 13, included rich testimonies as well as scientific and technical discussions. The meeting was organized by Manuel Desviat and sponsored by the Spanish Association of Neuropsychiatry (AEN), the Mental Health Association of Madrid, and FEAFES (Spanish Confederation of Associations of Families and People with Mental Illness). Ten countries participated in this meeting.

A panel of experts discussed the progress and obstacles of community psychiatric care, a subject Benedetto Saraceno devoted much of his efforts to. The second panel reviewed advances made by WHO, and Shekhar Saxena commented that one of the most important difficulties currently faced globally is the lack of sufficient resources, which cannot offset the high burden of disease caused by mental disorders. According to the new Director of the Department, the appropriate response for this situation is to develop creative solutions and to work effortlessly. 

The Director of PAHO, Dr. Mirta Roses-Periago thanked Dr. Saraceno -through a video- for the support he provided to improve mental health in the Americas when he was the Director of the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse of WHO and even before that.